Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. Covid-19 and lockdowns, a crashing economy, social tensions and anxiety – they’ve all created a sense of fear and hopelessness in so many people. As we prepare to welcome a new year, and the morn of 2021 brings the eve of 2020 to an end, it is an especially good time to reflect upon our lives, our paths and our progress toward the ultimate destination of our divine awakening and realization – especially after all that we’ve been through. So much in our lives, at times, feels overwhelming, frustrating, unmanageable….but at these times it is most important to remember that we are not alone. God is always with us.

There is a beautiful story of a young toddler playing in a sandbox. As the young boy shovelled and dug and built in the box, he came upon a large rock in the sand. No matter how much he tried to dig around it, the rock would not dislodge. Thus, he began to try to push it with all his might, trying to move it at least to the edge of the sandbox. Yet still the rock was too heavy for his small body and undeveloped muscles. Finally his eyes became red, and he began to cry out of frustration. A large shadow suddenly appeared across the sandbox and the little boy looked up at his father. “I can’t move the rock,” the boy exclaimed. “And it’s right in the middle of my hole.” The boy’s father replied, “My child, you have not yet used all your strength.” “Oh yes, Papa, I have. I have tried and tried to move it but it is too heavy. I cannot do it.”

The father leaned down into the sandbox and easily removed the large rock, laying it carefully on the ground outside the box. “My child, you may have used all the strength in your arms, but I am also your strength. You just had to ask for help and I would have come immediately to remove the rock from your hole.”

In our lives also, we forget that we have another source of strength, outside of our own bodies. We feel the weight of all problems upon our own shoulders and imagine that they are up to us to solve. We feel alone, tired, frustrated and helpless, for the rocks are sometimes too heavy for us to lift out of the way.

Yet, we must never forget our other source of strength – God. No rock is too big or heavy for Him. No hurdle or challenge or obstacle is insurmountable by Him. We must simply ask Him, with sincerity, purity and love, to come and help us remove the obstacles on our path. God has not created us to suffer. Rather He has given us intellect, intuition, purity, piety and faith that we may overcome suffering. He is here, at every moment of every day, to help us along the path, to relieve us of our burdens no matter how heavy they may seem.

We must never give up, we must never lose hope and we must never fear from forging a new, righteous, divine path in life. Those paths will, of course, be difficult at times. However, by maintaining our deep connection to God (by whatever name, whatever form, whatever religion you may be) we become able to tap into the boundless well of courage, fearlessness, steadfastness and creativity.

So, in this new year, let us realize that God is always there for us, always ready to remove the heavy and stuck rocks on our path. Let us never despair or become overwhelmed by frustration or tension. Let us live with the mantra which we sing every morning in our morning prayers at Parmarth Niketan, “Tu akele nahi pyare. Rama tere saath mein.” It means, “Never despair, my child. God is always with you.”

Happy New Year! I hope that – by God’s grace – all are in the best of health and happiness. We will say special prayers here on the banks of Mother Ganga for a year filled with health, happiness, peace, prosperity and spiritual upliftment for you all.

With love and blessings to you all and all your loved ones.

In the service of God and humanity,